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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Ecological Phenomenology , 21.5.04

The Ivory Tunnel
Heidegger's path into phenomenological enquiry is "to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself" (quoted in Stefanovic, 2000: 9-10; from Heidegger, 1962: 58). Stefanovic continues,

One of [phenomenology's] primary tasks is to articulate essential meanings as they appear to human understanding[,] ... to discern underlying patterns of meaning that may not be self-evident but that permeate our efforts to interpret the world in which we find ourselves [, and] ... to crystallize some essential truths in their historical and cultural rootedness."


  One "underlying pattern" of meaning might be explored by considering "environmental integrity", which has been lasciviously appropriated by the usual collection of political, corporate, and environmental interests hoping to capitalize on its Zeitgeist character.

Does it mean anything? Not much, if it's understood only as something one may obey (e.g., a rule set) or as something one may possess ("having" integrity) or measure (can 'environmental integrity' -- or any other conceptual notion -- be quantified and retain its essence?)

The Kyoto Protocol is one good example. It's a set of rules governing greenhouse gas emissions, intended to offset dire predictions of industrially-influenced climate change. The United States withdrew from the Protocol in 2001. Canada has signed on for a 3.3% reduction in its greenhouse gases. Although currently 122 countries have ratified the Protocol, their collective commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions do not meet the 55% overall reduction mandated by the Protocol, meaning that it may never come into force. Nonetheless (and despite their earlier, strenuous opposition to its ratification), corporations, governments, and pundits hail their compliance as proof of their 'environmental integrity'. An observer might be forgiven for feeling cynical.

Do I 'have' integrity because I haven't poured paint thinner into the storm sewer this morning (yet)? Do I 'have' integrity because, although I pour paint thinner into the storm sewer every day, the quantity I pour has been reduced (by, say, 3.3%) ever since my neighbour complained to the City and we worked out a deal? Can I salvage any faint version of 'integrity' if I point out that, although I pour paint thinner into the storm sewer daily, I also gainfully employ my neighbour's children and manufacture emergency medical apparatus? Maybe, but by this point we've already moved away from (only) measurement.

Integrity isn't a commodity, any more than the environment is, although both are currently understood primarily through their objectifiable qualities (e.g., the 'saving' of whales, marmots, postage stamps, etc.; boasting -- and buying and selling -- of percentile compliance levels). Maybe, like the French do, we should distinguish between "having" and "being" -- I have thirst (J'ai soif); I am sad(ness) (Je suis triste).

Integrity isn't something one can have or possess. It's not something one can really quantify, either, without remaining in very shallow waters. Perhaps it's something one may strive toward, or believe in, as a sublime quality. Integrity is, ultimately as at root, about wholeness, about integration.

How to get there from here? Not pouring paint thinner into storm sewers isn't a bad start, although it's only a start. Moving beyond the strictly quantifiable (this is not the same as abandoning it) might be a way of moving a little further along. Perhaps rethinking 'sustainability' (as in the Brundtland Commission sense) something along the lines of Heidegger's notion of dwelling as saving, as letting-be, as acknowledging a cosmos which is more than only the sum of its parts. Something like creating space for questions to be asked.

Thanks for comment space,

Muse (alharris@yorku.ca)

  Hi there " Blogger " --- I was in the search engines researching SEO Software when I came upon your blog..... I don't know if you are out of place in the engines, or I am out of place and just don't realize it :-)

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Integrity Incorporated

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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